Unless you’re a Blue Jays fan, a moderately serious fantasy player or are some sick obsessive who reads every single box score every day [cough, cough], Randy Ruiz probably hasn’t even crossed your radar screen. Sure, the Jays’ part-time DH and backup first baseman came on really strong late last year, but he hasn’t hit for anything in 2010 and at 32 isn’t anyone’s idea of a prospect. Not surprising at all, then, that he was released today.
More surprising is the fact that, on the very same day, he signed a contract with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles of Japan’s Pacific League. What timing that the Golden Eagles’ scout was there to thrust that contract in Ruiz’s hands mere minutes after the Jays gave him his walking papers!
Unless it really wasn’t fortuitous timing. Unless, like Toronto Star reporter Morgan Campbell, you believe that this was all done beforehand, with Ruiz making his deal with Tohoku Rakuten earlier this month when he missed a couple of games against the Indians for “personal reasons.” Campbell believes that Ruiz was talking to the Japanese team then, most likely with the Jays’ blessing.
If that’s the case, good for the Jays for making it easier for Ruiz to land on his feet. It’s obvious that he doesn’t have much of a role with this team, so doing what they can for him — if that’s what happened — was right sporting of them.
The news has gone from bad to worse for Dodgers’ left-hander Julio Urias, who is scheduled for anterior capsule surgery on his left shoulder next Tuesday and expected to be sidelined through the middle of the 2018 season. His MRI came back negative on Wednesday, giving the Dodgers some hope that the 20-year-old’s bout of shoulder inflammation wasn’t masking any structural damage, but the pain lingered several days later and prompted further concern from the club. The procedure will be performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache.
Urias was optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City in late May and placed on the disabled list with left shoulder discomfort several weeks into his assignment. At the major league level, he owned a 5.40 ERA, 5.4 BB/9 and 4.2 SO/9 through 23 1/3 innings, going 0-2 in five starts with Los Angeles. He made a brief rebound in Triple-A, posting three wins and striking out 17 of 67 batters in 17 1/3 innings before landing on the DL.
It’s a tough blow for the southpaw, who had yet to hit his stride in the majors before getting sidelined with shoulder issues. The Dodgers were especially mindful of this outcome for Urias, and had taken preventative measures to protect his arm by establishing a strict innings limit last season. According to club president Andrew Friedman, there’s a small silver lining here: while Urias’ injury will keep him out of work for at least 12 months, he doesn’t appear to have sustained any damage to his labrum or rotator cuff, and could be facing a much more streamlined recovery process as a result. Whether he’ll be able to rebound once he takes the mound again remains to be seen.
Tigers’ right-handed reliever Francisco Rodriguez was released on Friday, per a team announcement. The club recalled fellow right-hander Bruce Rondon from Triple-A Toledo in a corresponding move.
The former closer got the boot after losing his closing role in early May, giving left-hander Justin Wilson a chance to impress at the back end of the bullpen. It’s been a rough year for Rodriguez, who manufactured six blown saves and a 7.82 ERA, 3.9 BB/9 and 8.2 SO/9 over 25 1/3 innings for the Tigers. The final straw, it seemed, came with Robinson Cano‘s grand slam in the seventh inning of the Tigers’ 6-9 loss to the Mariners on Thursday.
While the demotion to a clean-up role and an apparent lack of communication caused Rodriguez considerable frustration, he’s two years removed from his last dominant performance as a major league closer and has shown few signs of returning to form. His recent slump doesn’t diminish the impressive totals he’s racked up over his 16-year career — 437 saves and six All-Star nominations among them — but if he can’t break out of it soon, he may not receive the kind of high leverage role he’s seeking with another big league team, either.